FEMALE VOCAL GEMS…Kate McGarry-Keith Ganz-Gary Versace: The Subject Tonight is Love, Lilly featuring Gilad Hekselman: Tenderly, Madeleine & Salomon: A Woman’s Journey, Sunny Wilkinson: Into the Light

Kate McGarry has a gentle and folksy voice, and she teams it up well with Keith Ganz/t-g and Gary Versace/p-key on this intimate collection. She does some spoken poetry accompanied by lovely piano on the soft “Prolog” and wisps out the lyrics on a flowing “Gone with the Wind,” “Fair Weather” and delicate “Losing Strategy #4.” Guitar and piano create impressionistic atmospheres on ”Climb Down” and a tactile take of “My Funny Valentine.” Pastel colors of sound.
Vocalist Lilly does an impressive collection of cozy duets with guitarist Gilad Hekselman on this album of mostly standards. Her voice is warm and calm, and she feels completely relaxed in this setting, using space as a sound on the softly sighing “Voice From the Mountain” and conversant take of “You Go To My Head.” Heksleman delivers dainty intros like flowing drapery on a glistening “Skylark” and sparkling “Day Dream” while some creative pedal work creates a pastoral “You’re Everything.” Gentleness and gentility at its best.
Madeleine has a voice akin to a mix of Betty Carter and Nina Simone, and she teams it with Salomon’s piano and arrangements in a collection of desultory duets. Stark reads of pieces such as Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen,” a subtoned “Strange Fruit” as well as a moody read of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz” with keyboards make for dark shadows. A Tom Waitsian “No Government” includes eerie plucking of piano strings and a chanteusy “Little Girl Blues” are teamed with a subliminal voice on “The End of Silence” to make you not want to listen to this album when alone in a blue mood and close to sharp objects.
Sunny Wilkinson is joined by Ron Newman/p, Ed Fedewa/b and Larry Ochiltree/dr for a deft mix of originals and covers. Her voice is flexible and softly crystalline, showing muscle on a modal “Into the Night” and a clever post bop take of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi.” She gets sepia mooded on a dark and ominous ‘Ode to Billie Joe” and understates a dark hued “Corcovado” with rich brush and bass work. Her hip bone shows on the bopping “Friday Night at the Cadillac Club” and does a rich aria of James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight.” Clever interpretations.

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